by Helen Bullard.
Outside our house the North Sea slips past; back and forth – the tidal pull of fish and men. The bank – on their side – slips with silt and ships and, further down, fishing boats. Our side is a fertile bed of razor grass and sea beat. When the July sun is high, heat beating into the dried grass and shimmering above the boat house, a symphony is commissioned along the bank that seems to drive the daily turning of events. The Buzz.
The board walk clatters beneath my feet over throngs of electric clock-work hoppers. They oversee the fishermen: three old-timers that crouch at the edge of the rushing tide. One stands to reach for his line – the sun flashes blind on his silver braces buckle, pressed to the centre of his back.
The Buzz is the perpetual state of the sun on the river bank.
The gulls are washing past in ribbons – the tide spinning and twisting them in streams. They cannot hear The Buzz, but it commands them all the same – drawing them in, tempting their curiosity. It expands into new ground: where fruit factories have given way, finally, to tall waving sun bleached grass.
LN57, a sky blue and vanilla cream fishing boat casts past, heading open-sea-ward on the high tide. The day-glow orange jackets of her crew fade into rust as they pass the docks. They are pulled by The Buzz, pulled along the bank, past the church spire topped by the ever watchful cockerel, straining up skyward to overlook it.
Cormorant green in the fishing trawler wake, lamenting gulls above the telegraph hum. Timbre banks itself, washed from the wood yard amongst it. Seals on the outgoing tide. Razor grass blue. Greyling butterflies flick their warning eyes at hoverflies and bees. All, rotary to The Buzz.
I am pulled down the bank. Around my feet they jump and fly, dry grass pricking at my toes – a deformed specimen catches my eye; one leg curled like a withered leaf. He cannot buzz. He is pale, sea bleached, green and brown – almost translucent. Almost.
Two of the fishermen wade their way through to retrieve their stashed bicycles – tucked into the sea beat under the board walk. They leave their friend – white haired, brown skinned, surrounded by The Buzz.
Eventually, as the temperature drops and the breeze lifts off the water, a subduing wash is thrown over the opus. It knocks it back, into the subconscious. The Mary Angela draws another wake – a white butterfly beats frantically against the broken surface relief and plummets headlong into the dormant drones.
In the end it is inevitable – as the foot ferry putters in I join the lifting buzz – the tern twist and dive. White gulls still spin high above – soap suds in a blue whirl pool: clockwork cogs – driving on.